A pensioner slit the throat of his wife of more than 40 years in a suicide pact went wrong, a court was told.
Police were greeted with the “extraordinary scene” of Dyanne Mansfield, 71, slumped dead in a chair at the bottom of the couple’s garden backing on to open fields in Hale, Greater Manchester.
Mrs Mansfield had bled heavily from a 16cm “gaping incised wound” and her windpipe had been severed.
Three knives and a lump hammer were found near her body.
They had responded to a 999 call on the morning of 24 March last year from her husband, Graham Mansfield, 73, who was discovered lying seriously injured in the kitchen.
He told officers he killed his wife at about 9pm the day before and then tried to take his own life but it had “all gone wrong”, Manchester Crown Court heard.
Mrs Mansfield had been suffering from cancer and the court was told the pair “had a perfect relationship and wanted to remain together for the rest of their lives”.
Opening the case, prosecutor David Temkin QC said: “He explained what he had done was in pursuance of a ‘pact’ made with his wife.”
He said Mansfield, who denies murder and manslaughter, does not dispute he intended to kill his wife but claims his reason for doing so provides him with a defence.
Also discovered at the scene nearby were two bricks on top of a plastic wallet containing a note written by Mansfield for the police.
“We have decided to take our own lives,” it said, giving instructions on where to find his house keys and how to contact his sister, the court heard.
‘Don’t get upset’
Another note written by Manfield, addressed to his family, was found in an envelope on the dining room table.
It read: “We are sorry to burden you with this but there is no other way.
“When Dyanne was diagnosed with cancer, we made a pact. I couldn’t bear to live without Dyanne and as the months progressed and as things got worse, it only reinforced our decision that the time has arrived.
“We hope you all understand.
“Don’t get too upset. We have had a wonderful and happy life together.”
Mansfield was arrested on suspicion of murder at the scene and was captured on police body-worn cameras explaining how he killed his wife and then tried to kill himself in the garden and then in the house.
Mr Temkin said: “He repeatedly expressed frustration at having failed to kill himself. He said that he just wanted to die.”
Mansfield was taken for surgery at Manchester Royal Infirmary, where he said he and his wife made the suicide pact on the first day of her diagnosis in September 2020.
Devoted to his wife
When interviewed by police, Mansfield said life had been “turned upside down” in the preceding six months. Mrs Mansfield’s disease had spread rapidly and quickly reached stage four.
Mansfield searched the internet for ways to end life, Mr Temkin told the jury, with the pair settling on the garden as the “venue” at the suggestion of Mrs Mansfield.
Police spoke to the couple’s family, their friends and neighbours.
Mr Temkin said: “All of them spoke about the defendant’s unswerving devotion to her.”
No record of her wishes
However, he added an “important feature” of the case was there was no record of Mrs Mansfield’s wishes.
“The defence has to satisfy you on the balance of probabilities that a genuine suicide pact existed,” he said.
He said Mansfield had also pleaded not guilty to the alternative count of manslaughter because he maintained “his actions were lovingly undertaken through duress of circumstances or necessity for the purpose of avoiding any further severe pain and suffering”.
The trial continues on Tuesday.